Where I Can’t Make a Decision: AKA Another Breastfeeding Post

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Have I told you I love breastfeeding? Oh, I have? Well, it’s true! It’s right up there with coffee and chocolate and homemade gelato. This is a post about co-sleeping too. See, we co-sleep. It just makes sense for our family. You know, in the sense that I think humans are pack creatures that need to be near other humans in order to fall into a comfortable sleep. (Yeah, Anthropology, man. It was my major!) Also, I just really love snuggling my baby. Seriously, it is THE MOST awesome thing ever. What’s also awesome was when he was a wee one and woke up 10,000 times at night, I didn’t have to do anything – just help him with his latch a bit and fall right back to sleep! And I really, really love sleep. I should have put that in the line above.

Anyway, co-sleeping and breastfeeding. I love them both. And I love night nursing. I really, really do. But it has been 18 months since I have been able to sleep through the night without my boobs being, you know, occupied. And I’m really, really tired. Like, thinking about eating people’s faces off tired. Ok, not really. I’m not smoking bath salts or whatever those people are doing with them. But I am pretty tired.

So I have this little voice inside my head whispering “Hey. You know, what? I bet if you night weaned him he would stop waking up at night. I bet if he didn’t have a boob-snack reward he wouldn’t be tempted to wake up so much”. Maybe? I think so. I have valuable intel that suggests this. AND THIS MAKES ME FEEL SO GUILTY!!! For one thing (most important) thing, it’s selfish. It is so, so selfish. And secondly, what if it makes him completely wean? I am so not ready for that.

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About the selfish thing: he obvious needs the snackage at night. He doesn’t eat much table food, and so if I night wean he will probably be forced to eat more. And I don’t want to force that choice on him simply because I am tired and desire more sleep. Because, that’s selfish. And motherhood isn’t about getting enough sleep; it’s about meeting all of your child’s needs no matter how hard it is. It’s one of the reasons I am so against CIO. YOUR KID NEEDS YOU, no matter how tired you are!!

Motherhood is so hard. It’s so all-encompassing and demanding. You are always being touched. If you’re not being touched by your toddler, you are being pawed at by your husband! 😉 And it might go a long way to help me, if my boobs could be mine for the night. Maybe? Plus, the fact that I’ve heard that night weaning will cause him to stop waking up 2-3 times per night.

Can I feed ToddlerH a snack before bed, and in the middle of the night console him with cuddles instead of boobies? I’m not sure. I’m just not sure how I feel about it. Does it make me a selfish piece of shit? I think it might. And that is not the kind of parent I want to be. But, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it teaches him that eating is a daytime activity and we fast at night so that our bodies can renew themselves (something my pregnant self had a hard time with!).

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I don’t know. I really, truly, honestly don’t know. And it’s hard. It’s hard because I am his parent and I have to do what’s best for him, sacrificing what’s best for me sometimes. Maybe continuing the way we are is best; maybe he needs nighttime nursing for nourishment and comfort. And this way he will continue making breastmilk the bulk of his diet, the way I believe it should be. Or perhaps I could night wean and it will be beneficial to him: he will still drink mostly breast milk and eat a little bit of table food and sleep through the night, thus getting more rest. Make up for the lost nighttime feeding with an extra-long and cuddling morning session? Is that wishful thinking?? Justification for me wanting to get more sleep?

I don’t know. What I do know, is this is a decision that is probably going to take me a few weeks to figure out, if not months. The waters of principals and values are murky, man. Murky and jellyfish infested (I like sharks). And the boundaries are permeable. But, I am guessing this hard decision is just the beginning. And you know what? That’s okay.

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5 thoughts on “Where I Can’t Make a Decision: AKA Another Breastfeeding Post

  1. I have no advice, only company. I could have written this about zofia. She’s 26 months and still on da bewb around the clock. I’ll miss this so much someday so I just let her continue on. She’s my little boob barnacle.

    • Thanks for your comment; It’s so nice to have company! I am almost certain I wont be able to push myself to night wean too. It’s tiring, but like you said, it’s gonna be over too soon! And I really do enjoy the closeness it fosters. I guess sometimes it just helps to admit that what you’re doing is hard.

      And I LOVE boob barnacle! I may have to make a t-shirt with that!

  2. Have you ever read the No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley? I don’t agree with everything she writes, but one thing that has been very true with my children is that the first step for a gentle transition is helping your child discover that they can be comforted at night with snuggles and general physical contact, not only nursing. That’s not to say comfort nursing in general needs to be nixed, but little things can help.

    One thing that worked well for us was transitioning from nursing to cuddling by gently breaking the latch with one finger after baby starts to doze and ceases to actively nurse. If he gets upset for more than a second, let him latch back on, give it ten seconds or so after he slows down again, then repeat. My oldest responded really well around 18 months old to my cuddling her for a few minutes anytime she stirred at night, rather than jumping straight to nursing. If she kept trying to get to my breast after a minute or so, I felt pretty safe in assuming she was hungry, not just seeking comfort. None of these were quick fixes for us, but after a couple of months, they completely changed how both my nurslings and myself slept at night.

    I hope this helps to some degree. I can’t say that it has made for blissfully uninterrupted nights of pre-parenthood quality sleep for me, but it has helped ease the sleep deprivation.

    • Hi Jen!

      I have not read that yet, but I have some friends that have and liked it. I will definitely check it out when I am ready to make that transition. I think right now I am definitely not ready! While night nursing is a pain, I don’t think I’m ready for him to give it up just yet! Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time! 😉

  3. I can relate to most of your post but we stopped co-sleeping early/around 4 months. My son is now 11 months & I am still nursing him. I am SUPER proud he’s never had formula but I am SO GLAD I get to sleep! I can tell you are tired…you MUST BE as you are still nursing at 18 months! At our 6 month appointment, the doctor said babies stomachs are capable of holding enough food that they can sleep through the night & he should be sleeping through the night. So I read Healthy Sleep Habits,Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth as all of my friends swore by this book. It was SUPER hard to let him cry it out the first time but it didn’t last long at all – honestly. I remember he cried the first night no more than 10 min, the second night 5 min, then he just settled in on the third night. I can NOT express to you HOW MUCH it has meant for me to be able to sleep 6 – 8 solid hours! It took a number of months of this consistent sleep for me to just to begin to feel rested. It’s AMAZING what women can do with such sleep deprivation!
    Weaning him at night will be a transition for everyone no matter when you decide to do it. But your son will ramp up and get the nutrition from both your breastmilk and table foods…and this is healthy too. I have had our son eating sweet potatoes, avocados, chicken, bananas, whole wheat waffles, cheese, applesauce and of COURSE goldfish. He has never had processed baby foods. I still get the breastfeeding bonding time first thing in the morning, after work and before bed. He also gets 2 bottles of expressed breastmilk during the day. Occassionally I feed him overnight if he wakes up (from teething) but thankfully these instances are much more rare. I can’t imagine how you are still surviving at 18 months without a solid nights sleep!
    It is going to be hard for me to wean my son, to know when its right to do so completely but I know in time he will need to transition. Like you, I will cross that bridge in time.
    I guess I am writing you this long email as I just want to encourage you to drop whatever self imposed guilt you are placing on yourself! And I know I will have to do the same in time! Best of success to you with whatever path you take, when you take it!

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